A person with a Wi-Fi enabled device such as a computer, cell phone or PDA can connect to the Internet when in proximity of an access point. The region covered by one or several access points is called a hotspot. Hotspots can range from a single room to many square miles of overlapping hotspots. Wi-Fi can also be used to create a mesh network. Both architectures are used in community networks.
Wi-Fi also allows connectivity in peer-to-peer (wireless ad-hoc network) mode, which enables devices to connect directly with each other. This connectivity mode is useful in consumer electronics and gaming applications.
When the technology was first commercialized there were many problems because consumers could not be sure that products from different vendors would work together. The Wi-Fi Alliance began as a community to solve this issue so as to address the needs of the end user and allow the technology to mature. The Alliance created the branding Wi-Fi CERTIFIED to show consumers that products are interoperable with other products displaying the same branding.
A term for certain types of wireless local area networks (WLAN) that use specifications conforming to IEEE